Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon commended the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Philippine and South Korea governments to build the P11.2-billion state-of-the-art multi-prupose irrigation project on the Jalaur River in the province of Iloilo.
The signing was held at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City last May 6, with Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and South Korea Finance Minister Bahk Jaewan leading the signing.
“South Korea’s P8.95-billion official development assistance (ODA) extended to the Philippines through its Export-Import Bank’s Economic Cooperation Fund was commendable and was a goodwill gesture,” said Drilon who was instrumental in the realization of JRMP, a project being implemented by the Department of Agriculture and the National Irrigation Administration.
The government counterpart fund is P2.2 billion, and P450 million of which was already released for the pre-engineering activities, noted Drilon.
“This is a game-changer for the people of Island of Panay. This is the biggest infrastructure project undertaken by this administration and bigger than any project undertaken by all the past administrations. This is a testament of your confidence to the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III,” Drilon said.
“The Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II is envisioned to augment agricultural production, stimulate agri-industrial activities, spur the local economy and the eco-tourism industry, increase employment opportunities and contribute to the development of the Province of Iloilo and the Western Visayas in general,” he added.
“As a multi-purpose project, it will provide benefits such as flood mitigation and control, and the promotion of eco-tourism in selected reservoir areas. Needless to say, the project will generate thousands of employment opportunities and economic enhancement in the region,” he said.
“With the project expected to be completed by year 2015, we are confident that this enterprise will make Western Visayas the rice granary of the Philippines once again.”
Drilon recalled that implementation of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project was mandated under Republic Act No. 2651 enacted by Congress in 1960.
Phase one of the project, which consisted of rehabilitating the irrigation systems with an area of 22,340 hectares, was completed in 1983. But Phase two of the project was never implemented since 1988 due to lack of funds and the apparent indifference on the part of the National Government.
He also said the project will be the first large-scale reservoir dam outside of Luzon and will provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 32,000 hectares of farm land and benefit more than 783,000 farmers.
This will increase the irrigated lands in the region by around 10 percent and the annual regional rice production by around five percent. It will likewise expand the production areas of sugarcane and other crops, noted Drilon.
He said the project will also generate approximately 17,000 local jobs equivalent to P1.3 billion in basic wages per year.
For his part, said Purisima said “the Republic of Korea is one of our most loyal and genuine partners who have supported the Philippines to expand economic growth and development. Since 1991, the Export-Import bank of Korea has provided the Philippines with highly concessional financing to support critical public investment and infrastructure.”
“The Jalaur Multi-Purpose Project stage II will be the first irrigation and agricultural project that the Korean government will finance in the Philippines. This is a testament to the commitment of the Philippines to assist the Philippines,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jaewan said in a speech, “I hope this project will significantly help improve the agricultural productivity and ultimately increase the rice self-sufficiency of the Philippines.”
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